Sunday, July 25, 2010

Back on Track

Things actually got a lot worse before getting better. I think I dropped another 10k or so and was down to 35K in my account which was the least I have had in over in a year. It was scary because another 10k or so lost and I would have had to give serious consideration to dropping the 30-60 games. I hit 500k vpps this month and earned two 4K bonuses which helped keep me afloat. Things finally did turn about five days ago and I'm on about a 500 big bet, 28k upswing.

It's amazing what running good does to my game. My game and reads are much sharper. Although some part of that is likely my perception, I'm nearly positive I'm playing better than I was last week. The right plays suddenly seem much more apparent and have been almost automatic at times. It's unfortunate in a way, it's a subtle form of tilt to know I'm not playing my A game when I'm running bad. This was especially true because the more I lost, the more meaningful lost money became to me, and the harder it was to play my best. It's tough not to be results oriented and this is something I constantly struggle with.

I mentioned in my last post that I need to make sure I don't put myself in the position of having to drop down limits because of mismanaging money. This became even more apparent when I started playing worse because the money was becoming more meaningful. This is one of the main reasons I've refrained from taking shots at nosebleed limits even when properly bankrolled and profitable games are running. It's not only the possible lost money at those limits but it's the after affect on my game that can be doubly detrimental and ultimately even more costly. Ideally, I'd like to always play stakes where the money means next to nothing and allows me to always play my best game regardless of how much I'm winning or losing.

On the VPP front, I've gained a lot of ground in the last week. I'm up to 528K VPPs which I think puts me about 2 weeks behind pace. I don't anticipate any problems making SNE again this year.

As my wife reminded me today, I haven't made any strategy posts for a while. If anybody has a specific topic they want me to write about, please email me or comment and I"ll do my best. If not, I'm sure I can come up with something.


  1. What's your current split between playing limit and no-limit?

  2. I bet being at home put your mind at ease a bit too. Good cooking never hurt either. Congrats on the solid turn around. -JG

  3. That's a relief! Hope that will continue for a long time!

    A strategy - how to beat bad players. It may seem simple - bet big to force them to fold with bad hands, but is there any "plan B" if big bets do not work? In one tournament, I was the BB and all folded except SB who bet 100 (50-100). I bet 400 with AK suited and he called. The flop came up K 2 5 (rainbow) and he checked. I made a straightforward bet - 800 and he called. The turn was 7. He checked and I bet 2000 and he called. The river was 8. He checked and I bet 4K and he called. Guess what he got? 87! I made huge bets yet he kept calling with nothing. I've seen many of those and I am not sure what strategy to utilize to prevent them from playing stupid.

  4. Hmm - split between NL and Limit really isn't a split - I'm playing about 99% limit right now and very little no-limit. I'm still doing a ton of reading and studying in NL and anticipate I'll be playing more and more as the year goes on.

  5. Thanks Jeff - No doubt being back home has helped.

  6. You actually don't want to force bad players out of hands like that - you want them to be calling with hands that are drawing to 5 outs or whatever so the way you played it is fine. You want to force them out when they have the best hand since that's most valuable to you. If they get lucky like the hand you described, that's just poker - nothing you can do about it.

  7. You are a beast man, congratulations. Keep being an inspiration to us, the small stakes players!

    Regarding to the strategy post, I would suggest something that would be very useful for me:

    What to do when you get 3bet very light both OOP and IP (ie BTN vs CO or SB vs BTN)? Playing IP is not that hard but OOP can be a pain in the ass when ppl start 3betting many suited connectors and so. I think most ppl overthink about this and I'm not an exception, I always think the 3bettor is running over me and start making loose calldowns with Ahigh just to see he shows a 75s that hit a 7 on the turn. Some ppl argue that good strategy is to start 4betting OOP.

    best adaptation should be try to find another table but many times the only bad spot is this guy 3betting light and being good postflop

  8. I accidently posted my comment because when I finished writing my post, I realized that it is best to keep them in the game with bad hands and that's where profit is in the making. You are right that big bets are to make them fold with their best hands to give me a better chance to win. Sorry about that and I feel stupid for making that post!

  9. "Although some part of that is likely my perception, I'm nearly positive I'm playing better than I was last week. The right plays suddenly seem much more apparent and have been almost automatic at times."

    This is something I've been thinking a lot about recently. A huge part of short term results has to do with running into the right (or wrong) part of your opponent's range at the right time. For example we might have a series of +EV flop bluff c/r, but we happen to run into the top 50% of opponent's range over and over again. Does this mean our reads are off or that we are playing bad? Not necessarily.

    On the flip side, we could also have a series of value flop c/r only to run into our opponent's bottom 30% and continually get folds. Again, not playing bad, just running bad.

    I have been doing a lot of analytical type work recently so that I can *hopefully* separate out the bad plays from the run bad.


  10. madscout: how are you performing this analytical study? are you doing by hand? I mean, it could be interesting to make more ppl doing this study.

  11. Hey Mad-

    Yeah you did a really good job of explaining exactly what I was alluding to with that quote.

    Something I'm always doing when playing (and I know you are too) is putting my opponent on a range of hands from beginning to end. So as long as the hand I see at showdown was in the range of hands I assigned, then I don't normally question anything. But if they show up with something that I neglected, then I go back and replay the hand to figure out where I went wrong.

    And the range of hands isn't the whole equation obviously, we have to make assumptions about how they'll play certain parts of their range, how they view our range, how they think we'll be playing our range, and then what's the best action based on all this. Although this part of the "equation" is important, I expect that I'm going to get it wrong a decent amount of the time, particularly at the limits we're playing because there are so many good players that are mixing things up and balanced as we are. This is definitely an area where you can run good for an extended period and feel like you're in the zone because you're constantly guessing right about how your opponents are going to play. Though, the reality could be that they are taking different actions with the same part of their range in the same situations but we just keep guessing right. And I don't know how you could ever quantify how well you're doing at this part of the game especially over the short run.

    What is your email by the way? Or can you email me with it at Would like to talk some strategy with you from time to time if that's cool. I'm always working on different parts of my game and would love to get your input.

  12. Hey Xavier,

    Let me say first I am by no means a no-limit expert. But I think you found the main way to combat a light 3-better - you want to open up your 4-betting range a little bit. Also, you want to tighten up your initial opening range because if he continues to 3-bet light, it will be more costly for him to do so since he will be running into the top part of your range more. I'm not sure calling more oop is a good solution unless you're an extremely good postflop player. I think this would actually play more into his strategy since we have to check/fold so many flops.

  13. @Javier Vera - I have been doing most of the analytical studies by hand and tabulating the results in a spreadsheet.

  14. Tony:
    I was talking about LHE when I post this about 3bet :-)

    how do you gather the data? do you put a mark everytime your semibluffs work, etc? I think it could be easier using some HEM's filters.

  15. Javier: My recent analytical work is mostly looking at how flops hit different ranges, not so much looking at empirical evidence from actual play. In this way I don't have to worry about sample size or variance to know if a play is good or not.

  16. Hey Javier,

    Sorry, not sure why I thought NL. Ok that's a pretty good topic to discuss in a blog so I'll plan on doing that in one of my upcoming posts.

  17. @Tony: it will be great!

    @madscout: mmm very appealing study indeed!